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Children's LiteratureAGERANGE: Ages 10 up.
Africa in 2070 has been a land infused with magic ever since the nuclear fallout from the Great Change. Fourteen-year-old Ejii is a shadow-speaker who can communicate with the hovering shadows all around her, and through them, with the innermost being of those she encounters. But the world of the future is no less brutal and warlike than our own world of today, and Ejii is sent on a dangerous mission with Sarauniya Jaa, the Red Queen of the Niger, who once beheaded Ejii's own savagely controlling father to put a bloody end to his tyranny. Can Ejii and Jaa now forestall devastating war between Earth and the four other worlds that have been opened to it? Okorafor-Mbachu has created a series of fantastic and mesmerizing landscapes, from the deserts of Nigeria to the lush forests of alternate world Ginen, where buildings are actually gigantic, living, blooming plants. Ejii and her companion, a young, previously enslaved rainmaker, must learn whom they can and cannot trust, and how much they are willing to risk to save their endangered planet. Okorafor-Mbachu's moral landscape is complex and shifting as well, inviting readers to ponder sweeping ethical questions such as whether deadly violence, even to oppose great evil, is ever justified. This is a rich and powerful debut novel from a fresh new voice in young adult fantasy. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.